The Secret Message Behind a Handshake

When I meet somebody, and reach my hand out to shake their hand, something ridiculous always happens: I’m too caught up in noticing how they shake my hand that I miss their name. It drives me nuts, and is extremely embarrassing when I then have to introduce that person to someone else.

Well, a couple Saturdays ago, I was out with my boyfriend, and he told me something that kind of blew my mind: guys will change their handshake depending on who they’re meeting.

So, if a Dad is meeting his daughter’s boyfriend, he’ll give an extra firm, I’ll-break-your-fingers handshake, but if he’s meeting his boss’ wife, he’ll give a much softer, I-respect-you kind of shake. This makes sense, right? I am always taken aback when a grown man gives me a meek, loosey goosy handshake, but it might be because he’s trying to be nice?

The thing is: my handshake doesn’t change. I think I would shake the President’s hand the same way I’d shake your hand. Am I missing something here?! 

Cartoon by Greenberg

4 thoughts on “The Secret Message Behind a Handshake

  1. I’m like you – I always pay attention to how the other person shakes and my handshake never changes, always firm, always confident even in my personal life. I work in a field that is traditionally male dominated and I hate those loosey goosey handshakes that so many men give, I will have to give some thought that it might be a nice thing. I actually always felt that the firm handshakes were a sign of meeting on equal footing.

    As for women, wth is with the tiny cold hand limply offered like you’re supposed to be kissing it?! I don’t know what to do when I get ahold of them and feel like a bull in a china closet (and I’m on the small side myself). I always feel like these women are a different species.

  2. In Seattle, everyone did fist bumps instead of hand shaking. It was weird. And there’s only one thing worse than a limp handshake, and that’s a sweaty limp handshake, which is a totally unfair thing to say, but there you are.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *